The Centre has told the Supreme Court that web search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing have to play a “proactive role” in implementing India’s law on female foeticide and should stop displaying advertisements for sex determination tests.
Sex determination tests have been banned in the country since 1994, when the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act came into force.
A petition filed by Sabu Mathew George claimed online advertisements are offering illegal sex test kits and displaying addresses of foreign clinics that provide assistance for the illegal act.
“Any such intermediary, who fails to expeditiously remove or disable access to any such material, shall be liable under the provisions of the IT Act,” the communication and information technology ministry said in its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court.
It said tools and technology adopted by search engines to block “child pornography content” and “religious images” in other countries can be adopted here to prevent access to advertisements providing links to pre-natal sex determination tests.
At a previous hearing, the Supreme Court was informed by advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for George, that the three major web search engines were not blocking access to advertisements on sex determination tests despite interim order passed by the top court.
In January, the Supreme Court had directed Google, Yahoo and Bing to block or filter access to websites and advertisements on foetal gender determination which violate Section 22 of the PNDT Act.
The three search engines are the dominant players in the Indian market with Google alone accounting for 95.29% of market share.
In the latest affidavit, the ministry said the major search engines have to take a “proactive stand” against female foeticide by adopting “country-specific” filtering or blocking of content on the subject.
The 2011 census had revealed a skewed child sex ratio of 914 girls for every 1,000 boys, the lowest since independence and a drop from the previous figure of 933 in the 2001 census.